This page includes frequently asked questions about being a creator of copyright-protected works, and about copyright in publishing and conducting research.
For easy printing and viewing, all frequently asked questions below are available in this Authors and Creators document.
Authors and Creators Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. Copyright can expire (e.g., the “life plus 50” rule) and works will then become part of the Public Domain. Material in the public domain may be freely copied without permission or payment of royalties. There is also an important exception to the rights of copyright owners known as fair dealing. The fair dealing exception in the Copyright Act attempts to balance the rights of the copyright owner with the needs of others, such as students and researchers, who require access to copyright-protected materials to pursue their studies and research activities.
This depends on any contracts that you may have signed with the publisher of your work. If you retained copyright in the publishing contract, you can distribute your work (as well as give or withhold permission for others to do so) at your discretion. If you have signed copyright over to a publisher, then permission must be acquired from the publisher for the copying and distribution of your work unless the use of the work is covered by an existing license or an exception in the Copyright Act such as the fair dealing exception.
To assist authors in retaining their copyright when publishing a journal article, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) has put together a brochure with some practical tips for negotiating publishing contracts as well as an addendum that authors can try to add to their contracts with publishers. The brochure also includes some information that would be helpful for negotiating contracts with book publishers.
Two additional resources that may be helpful are:
- a Library Guide on author rights from McGill University; and
- a short guide to negotiating with publishers from an Arizona State University Library Guide.
One option for disseminating your work while retaining your rights as the author/creator of a work is to publish your work openly. This University of Saskatchewan Library Guide on Open Access provides background information on the open publishing movement, as well as information specifically for authors and information about how to publish different types of materials openly.
Librarians at the University of Saskatchewan have created a Predatory Publishers Library Guide to help the university community identify and avoid publishing with “questionable or disreputable” journals and publishers, which are commonly known as “predatory” journals/publishers.
Unless it is otherwise noted, you should always assume that existing survey tools are copyright-protected and that permission is required to use them in research.
Published tests are commercially available and can usually be purchased through the test publisher for use in your research. Unpublished tests can usually be acquired from the author or creator of the test and should be used with permission.
Permission is also required to adapt or modify an existing test or measure, because the right to adapt or modify a work is exclusive to the copyright holder of that work.
Copying a test or measure for the purpose of analyzing or critiquing the measure may be considered fair dealing under the Canadian Copyright Act, but only if the copy was made from a legally obtained original. Please contact the Copyright Coordinator for additional details.
For assistance with finding tests and measures or information about tests and measures for your field: